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Apple Pie Pancakes a la Mode

Mariel here. This, my friends, is what happens when you start reminiscing on an empty stomach. After waxing geriatric for Father’s Day and drumming up old memories of Bakery Sundays filled with Apple Turnovers, sugared Elephant Ears and crotchety Bran Muffins for the fiber-philes, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the delicious breakfast treats of yesteryear.

The Apple Turnover, in particular, really stuck in my mental craw, and as I sat chained to my desktop slogging away at a seemingly endless parade of deadlines, I began to fantasize about those innocent carefree days of youth, riding that sweet insulin roller coaster until it inevitably crashed and burned into a pile of tears. Those were the days you could pack away three pastries before noon and smack your kid bro straight in the mouth for even thinking about touching the fourth. You’d already called dibs, sucka.

Since these hands weren’t made for dough creating – I stink at it, sorry mom, I don’t care how many times you try and teach me – I decided to bag the traditional Turnover format and call upon its dumpier cousin, The Pancake. I also decided that I’m too old to mow a bag of sugar before 9AM, so I’d make something a little more apres-dinner-appropriate.

This dessert (or breakfast, I don’t judge) is insanely delicious. It takes the best of Mom’s Apple Pie and slathers it between plump little mountains of Oatmeal Pancakes that are so light and fluffy you almost forget they’re packed to the gills with good-for-you stuff. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream – Edy’s of course – and you’ve got a dessert that’s more than company-worthy. In fact, forget the guests and call dibs on all three towers yourself. Suckas.

Apple Pie Pancakes
Makes 3 triple-decker “cakes”

Note: You can make all the components ahead of time, just save the apple pie filling and the pancakes in separate containers in the fridge. I suggest warming everything very gently or bringing it back to room temperature before serving, but it’s not necessary.

Ingredients for the Apple Pie filling:
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin – $3.89
2/3-cup brown sugar, lightly packed – stock
¼-teaspoon cinnamon – stock
¼-teaspoon nutmeg – stock
½-teaspoon lemon juice – stock
2 Tablespoons softened butter, chopped coarsely – stock
¼-cup toasted walnuts for topping (optional) – stock
Three big scoops of vanilla ice cream (optional) – $3.89

Ingredients for Oatmeal Pancakes – makes 9-10 pancakes (Adapted from a 2008 Gourmet recipe)
¾-cup Old Fashioned oats – $3.79
1½ cups milk – stock
1½ Tablespoons of white vinegar – stock
¾-cup whole wheat flour – stock
1½ teaspoons baking powder – stock
¾-teaspoon baking soda – stock
½-teaspoon cinnamon – stock
¼-teaspoon ground nutmeg – stock
1 egg, lightly beaten – stock
½-teaspoon vanilla extract – stock
½-teaspoon salt – stock
2 Tablespoons butter, melted + a pad or two for greasing the skillet – stock
1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar – stock
Grand total assuming “well-stocked” kitchen (and excluding “a la mode” accompaniments): $7.68
Cost per pancake tower: $2.56

Directions for Apple Pie filling:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

2. In a large bowl, combine the sliced apples, sugar, spices and lemon juice, tossing well. Pour the apple mixture into a 7X11 pan (or 9X13), and dot with 2 Tablespoons of butter.

3. Cover loosely with tinfoil and poke a small hole into the center to ventilate (I used a fork). Bake for 30 minutes. Remove tinfoil and bake for an additional 8 minutes. Cool uncovered at room temp for about 10 minutes.

Directions for the Oatmeal Pancakes:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes (you’re making a buttermilk substitute. You can also use the real thing if you keep it on-hand, like my mom).

2. In a medium bowl, soak the oats in ¾-cup of the “buttermilk” for 10 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

4. Add the lightly-beaten egg, melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla, remaining ¾-cup of buttermilk substitute and soaked oats to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.

5. Heat a large skillet or griddle over a med-high flame and brush with butter. Once piping hot, reduce flame to medium and pour in batter by the ¼-cupful. Cook each pancake for 1 minute or until air bubbles form and it’s golden, then flip and cook the other side. Repeat until all batter is cooked.

6. Assemble the Apple Pie Pancakes starting with a pancake, then a big scoop of apple filling, another pancake, another scoop of filling, then finish with a third pancake. Top with vanilla ice cream and toasted walnuts and drizzle with some of the juices rendered by the apples. You’ll have enough to make three triple-layer pancake “cakes.”